Basis (For Your Convenience)
History in a Nutshell
The Yuni people are an ancient tribe that have dwelled in the Blanca region for millions of years, since the last major Ice Age. Originally nomadic, the tribe made their way south, following herds of game until they found wide, expansive desert regions. There, the tribe built the first villages, using houses made out of sticks and various scrap pieces of wood. At that point, they were mainly hunters, living off the meat from wild Tauros and Nidoran (perfecting venom removal techniques in the process) until the Yuni people learned that the local berries (particularly Cornn, Drash, and Strib) along with certain roots and vegetables could be cultivated for a renewable food supply, despite the arid climate. So, parts of the Yuni nation moved towards the rivers to build more permanent villages made of mud and rock, while the hunters remained inland in wood huts that could be quickly disassembled at a moment's notice when the hunters would follow the Tauros herds.
However, they were far from the only tribe on the land. The other people were the Situnes, a war-loving tribe who migrated by following the rivers from the plains in the east to the mountains in the west. Seeing the Yuni as invaders to a land promised to them by their own gods, the Situnes declared war on the Yuni people sometime in the first century. For the following centuries, the Yuni and Situne people fought countless battles. Many died, many were captured, villages were destroyed, and little progress was made.
Finally, by some freak storm (according to legend, the rage of the Four Guardians coming down all at once upon the Situne – according to science, a volcanic eruption that resulted in Lake Osmium), an earthquake and a fire blazed through the Situne capital in the mountains. The surviving Situne fled down the mountain into Yuni country, where they made a desperate attack in an effort to capture a major Yuni village. A massacre of Situne people ensued, and after the eruption and attack, the remaining Situne fled back up the mountains, pursued by the majority of the Yuni warriors. Eventually, the Situne came to a cave, where they hid in its depths while the Yuni waited for three nights before lighting a fire at the cave mouth. The Situne, who refused to surrender and emerge from the cave, were promptly annihilated by the smoke.
Reclaiming the entirety of their land, the Yuni people spread, building their most extravagant cities on the tops of mountains and buttes in order to protect themselves while developing an irrigation system to bring water to their new farms. Yuni hunters often stayed away from these villages for months at a time, living out of teepee-like tents until they slaughtered enough Tauros and other game to bring back to the village to feed it for a week while they went on another hunt. During these centuries without an enemy, the Yuni people grew peaceful and content.
Until, of course, the white men came.
When European conquistadores journeyed northward from southern regions like Orre, they did so in search of a lost city of gold rumored to be somewhere within the area. What they found instead were vast territories of practically barren land and a complex culture of natives who saw the white strangers as gods. Assuming that the entirety of the continent was rightfully theirs, the conquistadores forcefully seized the easier-to-reach Yuni villages (avoiding the buttes and mountains), slaying the hunting parties, enslaving the women, and reaping as much of the Yunis' crops as they wanted (while destroying the rest). The Yunis, by then used to centuries of peace and armed with extremely primitive weapons and shields compared to the European firearms and armor, were decimated first by the brutality of the explorers and then by the foreign diseases the Europeans brought with them.
After a few decades of this massacre, it was finally discovered that there was no golden city in the region, and that the region held nothing except for white sand. So, many of the Europeans left without much of an interest, headed instead towards the east (at the recommendation of a fairly clever Yuni shaman). A few Spanish, namely the Christian missionaries and politicians who arrived just after the explorers, remained on Yuni territory (by then dubbed Blanca, after the white lands) to establish small towns where villages once stood and to convert the Yuni people living closest to them to Christianity.
Several years later, the Americans came. Unbeknownst to the Yuni people, their land had, since the time of the conquistadores, traded hands over and over again. At first, the Spanish held it themselves for the first couple hundred years. Then, sometime in the early nineteenth century, the Spanish territory of New Spain (later Mexico) broke away from its Spanish motherland, and with it, they took much of the West, including Blanca. In 1848, following a two-year war between Mexico and its neighbor to the north, Blanca changed hands once again as part of a treaty with the Americans in exchange for American evacuation of the Mexican capital. (Technically, Americans have entered the then-Mexican territory of Blanca for a few years before that point, but no one bothered to really enforce political borders that far north.)
This political turmoil meant almost nothing to the Yuni people until more and more American settlers arrived in the new territory. At first, none of the Yuni people took much notice, but it was when an American struck silver, prompting settlers to flood the region and claim it as their own, that the Yuni people became apprehensive. Silver lured Americans further and further into the mountains, closer to the smaller Yuni villages. There, the European settlers would attempt to establish their own mining villages and attempt to drive off the mountainous Yuni people. Alternatively, Americans looking to own a large amount of land of their own would settle by the rivers and slay Tauros by the hundreds, which in turn would diminish the Yuni food supply. Both types of behavior triggered a war between the Europeans from the east and the Yuni people – a war that lasted until the 1860's.
It was during the height of the Civil War that a winter storm caused the Rio de Oro to break its banks and nearly destroy both Yuni farming villages and newly built European towns. Knowing that both needed to rebuild with limited supplies in the harsh region, the mayor of Tin City (then one of the eight major towns in the region) and the chief of the Village of White Arcanine (often considered to be the capital of the Yuni nation) drew up a treaty that invoked peace between the Yuni and European people.
Since that day, the Yuni and the Europeans have lived in as close to harmony with (and more along the lines of polite respect towards) each other, and the Yuni culture has, to this day, thrived.
The Yuni nation is composed of what is actually three different people united under the same origins, belief systems, and enemies. The first type of Yuni is a hardy group of people living in the colder areas of the Silver Mountains at the edge of the region. Because of the rocky terrain, these types of Yuni are primarily trappers and craftsmen, hunting the small, furry Pokémon and using the wood of the mountain forests and brush to create pelts (for blankets and rugs) as well as woven baskets and wooden objects for trade with the lower people. (This is aside from the meat they gather and cure from the Stantler that live in the mountains and the fish from Lake Osmium.) Most of these people tend to be shorter and stouter than the other Yuni people to resist the colder climate, though the food supply isn't quite as plentiful as on the plains and mesa.
The plains people, descending from the warriors who hunt, are based on farming villages near the rivers and nomadic packs of hunters in the deserts. In these tribes, the women stay near the river to work the farms, whereas the men form hunting parties that track herds of Tauros for anywhere from a few days to several months. The meat they collect from Tauros are then added to both their respective villages' supply and the inventory of goods that are traded to the people of the mesa and mountains. It's the plains people who are well known for the irrigation systems (which is later adopted by the mesa people) and rain summoning rituals.
Third and certainly not the last are the mesa people, those who live on the lofty mesas in the deserts and badlands of La Blanca. The villages atop these plateaus generally have the best military advantages (and are, according to legend, stated to be the ideal spots for the bird gods of the Yuni people to make their nests), so the cities that grew atop them tend to be political and cultural centers. For that reason, the mesa people are generally the most well-respected (and well-known image of the Yuni people in general), capable of dividing shares that come in from the mountain and plains tribes among the entirety of the Yuni nation. Likewise, the mesa people have constructed complex buildings of adobe bricks, many of which serve as meeting halls for tribal leaders, temples, or libraries. The largest mesa establishment in the Tin City area and capital of the portion of the Yuni nation in the northwest corner of Blanca is the Village of White Arcanine, less than a day's ride to the north of the city limits. (The shaman Sun-Eyed Xatu and the Yuni "king" Running Growlithe both reside in this settlement.)
Overall, the Yuni culture revolves around the use of rituals and the reliance on legends. The Yuni worship nature. Literally. There is a god for everything, and everything is a god (or at least possesses a spirit of its own). For that reason, the Yuni give the utmost respect to nature. Their hunting rituals include giving thanks to the animals they kill, they hold elaborate festivals at certain times of the year to celebrate the earth, and their legends weave the tales of the personifications of various nature spirits. Often, these legends are embodied in oral storytelling (usually sung by the women and the village shaman), elaborate dance (the most famous of which is their own rain dance, which prays to the rain bird known as Storm Eagle – or Soona), and their art (the dolls believed to contain pieces of spirits that roam the earth).
Yuni legend has been transcribed since the day the Spaniards had introduced them to the concept of writing. In the mesa villages, the Yuni have established libraries, in which they keep clay tablets with their legends written on them. One of the most well-known of these is located in the Village of White Arcanine and is a massive set of tablets known as the Book of Beginnings. This book details the tales of the Yuni creation beliefs, up to and including the stories of Storm Eagle and her four Guardians, a vital tale behind the weather rituals as well as the apocalypse beliefs of the Yuni people. (They believe that one day, Storm Eagle will awaken from her sleep to the flood the earth and return it to the ocean from which it came.)
Formerly, these tales were passed down from generation to generation by the village shaman, an elderly man well-versed in spiritual rituals and medicine who holds about as much power as the chief himself. In many villages, the shaman still tells the stories in the old method, especially given the fact that few people are capable of reading the tablets.
Like many other native tribes, the Yuni believe heavily in spirit guides. They believe that watching over them and within them is a spirit that takes the form of a Pokémon. This Pokémon, who indicates certain characteristics of their charge's personality, aids the Yuni throughout his life, helping to make decisions and protecting him from harm. Every Yuni undergoes a coming-of-age ceremony at the start of puberty that leads to their discovery of their own spirit guide. For the males, it entails a long quest alone in the desert until they have an epiphany. For females, it involves a cleansing ceremony with other adult female Yuni (namely, taking the female to a spring and bathing her with certain herbs to induce visions).
Your Average Yuni
Generally, the Yuni are a race of bronze-skinned people with dark, almond-shaped eyes and raven black, straight hair. (It may be silver, white, or gray, depending on the age of the Yuni character). Their body structure tends to vary vastly between locations. Mountain Yuni are shorter but stouter, plains Yuni extremely muscular but average built, mesa Yuni graceful and average height. There are, of course, variations (such as a graceful Yuni in the mountainous areas), but many Yuni tend to fall under one of these body types.
As for dress, most Yuni wear loose clothing made of animal skins and cotton, depending on the area. (There are some Yuni who prefer to go naked, but nudist colonies are uncommon, removed from the rest of civilization, and are difficult to find. Don't bother asking.) Occasionally, one may find a Yuni who has adopted the clothing of the European settlers, but these Yuni tend to be looked down upon by their tribesmen for "forgetting their origins."
Yuni typically do not use firearms except the rifle, as anything else is considered impractical. (The rifle itself is mostly used for hunting.) Additionally, the Yuni tend to use arrows, slings, and spears to hunt, primarily the former.
Yuni are also known fairly well for their psychic abilities. Many shaman are capable of healing, empathy, precognition, a combination thereof, or all three and more. Handfuls of other Yuni are said to have these powers or a variety of others, although to be a Yuni who isn't a shaman but is, as they call it, "touched by the spirits" is incredibly rare.